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Sheriff: Rochelle man fell off cliff, second death a coincidence

Published: Monday, March 19, 2012 1:15 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 2:09 p.m. CDT
Joseph A. Large

MOUNT MORRIS – A 24-year-old Rochelle man whose body was found Sunday in a creek in White Pines State Park apparently fell off a cliff and hit a rock, Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn said Monday.

An autopsy is scheduled today for Joseph A. Large. Harn declined to say if drugs or alcohol were involved.

Large is the second man to die at the park in the last 2 weeks – a coincidence, Harn said.

Brandon A. Landau, 19, an Illinois Wesleyan University fraternity member from Bronx, N.Y., was drunk when he drowned in Pine Creek on March 4, police have said.

In Sunday’s incident, deputies were called about 1:14 p.m., after friends reported Large missing.

The group of five was picnicking when Large got into an argument with one of his friends and wandered away. Deputies found his body fully submerged in Pine Creek under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway trestle on the park’s northern border.

Harn said it appears Large was on one of the cliffs next to the trestle when he lost his footing, fell down a steep incline and hit a large rock in the water. His body was scraped, presumably from the fall, the sheriff said.

“No trespassing” signs are posted in the area, he noted.

The two deaths are in no way an indication of the state park’s safety, Harn said.

“I’ve gone to this park many times with my family over the last 13 years. There is nothing dangerous about this park.”

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